We woke up early to our huge breakfast, made by our wonderful casa owners. Eggs, fruit, bread and sandwich; needless to say we were stuffed afterwards and ready to face the day! We wandered along the never ending Calle Neptuno towards Havana Vieja, stopping off at Seriosha’s record store on the way so that Ramsey could go “digging” for some gems. The shop was tucked away at the back of a dark store that had lots of stalls set up around the edges selling bits and bobs from children’s toys to plumbing parts.
We then went to buy tickets for a tour of Partagas cigar factory from one of the hotels. At 12.50 she sold us tickets for the last tour of the day at 1pm. We hurried across to the factory, just two blocks away, only to find that the factory had temporarily moved location… After a few moments of panic we rushed outside to grab the first taxi we could to take us to “la fabrica del tabaco”. We zoomed off and soon arrived at 12.59 outside a tobacco factory but suddenly realised we hadn’t specificied the one we wanted… The guy wasn’t impressed and started speaking in completely incomprehensible Spanish. We decided to get out and ask in the factory. Luckily they pointed us around the corner and we hurried towards the burgundy awnings that signified we had made it. Just in time for the last tour to begin. I can’t say I learnt much, and it was clear our guide was tired and unenthusiastic about the whole thing, wanting to finish her shift, but we did get to see the factory workers working away at their little stations as they puffed on their daily ration of cigars. At the end of the tour we were ushered into the room where we had left our bags and told to shut the door. Our tour guide then whipped out a laptop bag and showed us a load of “the best quality” cigars which she was selling for 10cuc, and which the shop supposedly sells for 24cuc. Whether it was true or not we will never know, but just in case it was Ramsey bought two for good measure.
|Partagas Cigar Factory|
From the factory we wandered back through central Havana to the old town, finding ourselves in the Plaza Vieja. We marvelled at Da Vinci’s camera oscura, with its powerful lenses allowing us a bird’s eye view of Havana as we zoomed in on the square below and watched the classic cars driving down the streets around us in real time. We quenched our thirst in the cervecería of plaza Vieja, which brews its own beers, whilst listening to the quartet playing beside us on the terrace. It was wonderful. We watched the world go by and savoured the taste of a great beer, tapping in time to the salsa rhythms; I couldn’t have thought of anywhere better to be.
|Views from the building that is home to Da Vinci’s camera oscura|
Just before the sunset we explored the craft market of Alamenes San Jose. Rows and rows of paintings and stalls of handmade crafts filled this large warehouse sat on the seafront. I could have spent hours wandering up and down, looking at the jewellery and crafted items, all made from natural materials. Ramsey was grateful when the stalls finally began to close as the sun began to set, saving him from dying of boredom.
We managed to pick up our first taxi collectivo on the way home, admittedly with the help of a kind Cuban lady. It dropped us at the start of our road, just two blocks from home for a mere 1CUC for the both of us! And in a classic car at that! Talk about travelling in economical style.
Exhausted from walking around I had an unexpectedly long siesta until 10:30pm whilst Ramsey was listening to the ramblings of our casa host, a lovely old man who simply would not stop talking. We quickly got ready as I tried to shake off my sleepiness and headed to “el zorro y el cuervo” jazz club. A live band entertained us as we sipped on mojitos and Cuba libres. What a wonderful end to a wonderful day!